Very rough draft of a poem just written.
This Is All About You
The day Mum came home and told me
you had died in your sleep, my heart jerked
like the broken wing of a young bird,
fresh from the nest.
You died in the hospital bed where
you’d sat and rocked and cried,
and gathered bed sores like cruel tokens.
I thought of your bed, how hard it was,
how you could have, if you’d wanted to,
knocked yourself into a coma with your pillow.
I was meant to bring you a pillow from home.
But I never did.
I laughed when Mum was done talking.
I laughed until I had to guzzle air.
I laughed because that’s what I do
when shit gets really, really bad.
Mum said your skin tasted
like rust when she kissed you goodbye.
She kissed everything.
Your spiky elbows.
The cold tips of your toes.
Your flimsy eyelids.
She kissed your bloodless veins
and motionless lips.
She kissed your absurdly large hands,
and feathery hair.
She asked if I wanted to come kiss you.
I said no. The contrast between our skin
tones would have sent me running.
You, bluish, me, summer brown.
And now, it’s the day after we put
your ruined body into a cardboard
coffin, plastered with photographs
hurriedly tugged from albums.
The smell of old glue made us all retch.
It’s the day after we all held the paddle
that pushed your body into the flames,
which first of all whispered, then roared.
This aftershock is brutal.
Like the pain of a broken jaw.
My mad, gorgeous sister didn’t get close
to finishing an apple and smiling
afterwards, instead of breaking
down into a fury of heaving sobs.
Mum is cooking downstairs.
Food is guaranteed.
We are all stuffed with sorrow,
but we will eat and we will finish
what is put on our plates.